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An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes


Canadian Approach

Has Canada entered into this growing dialogue on cultural landscapes as heritage resources?

In the past decade national heritage agencies have recognized cultural landscapes within their various cultural resource management programs. Parks Canada defines cultural landscapes as "Any geographical area that has been modified, influenced, or given special cultural meaning by people" (Parks Canada, 1994a: 119) and has included them in the National Historic Sites System Plan.

Deer crossing prairie with hills behind
Pronghorn in short grass prairie, Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan.
© Parks Canada / A. Cornellier /, 1988.

Designated national historic sites include all three types of cultural landscapes: parks and gardens as designed landscapes, urban and rural historic districts as evolved landscapes, and several associative cultural landscapes related to the history of Aboriginal peoples.

Most provinces, including Ontario and Nova Scotia, have developed an approach to cultural landscapes. However, both the provinces and the territories have generally used an archaeological rather than a cultural landscapes approach to the commemoration of Aboriginal heritage. They recognize, nonetheless, that some designated sites, such as Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in Alberta and White Mountain on Lake Mistassini in Quebec, have cultural landscape values. British Columbia's traditional use studies program (British Columbia, 1996) and Yukon's address to Aboriginal values of place in its planning processes are examples of other approaches to recognizing cultural landscapes.

Aboriginal decision-makers, as well, have their own approach, including the study of place names for the management of symbolic values.

River bend with cliffs and prairie vegetation in autumn.
North Saskatchewan River at Batoche, Saskatchewan.
© Parks Canada / Photo Services / H., 1980.



Last Updated: 2008-10-17 To the top
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